Keeping Your Voice — Even When Someone Else Is Writing

This is the post excerpt.

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I lucked into a content writing project months before officially launching my business. Through that project, I was even luckier to learn invaluable lessons about audience and voice.

You can easily adapt those lessons when working with a content writer.

Earlier this year, my business partner asked me to rewrite the content of a site she was building for a couple of her friends. As former hitchhikers and train hoppers, the two young women wrote in a distinctive voice that absolutely fit the image of their chainmaille jewelry boutique. I didn’t have to do much more than rewrite their content for clarity and concision.

But just before we were about to send the revised text over to the jewelers, my business partner pointed out a sentence that needed to be rewritten. I didn’t see any problem with the sentence, so I asked her to show me the issue.

“They’d never say that,” she told me.

So how can you make sure your content writer preserves the essence of your voice?

Let the writer get up close and personal.

No doubt that content questionnaires and interviews will help a writer get a solid feel for your business.

But you wouldn’t expect another employee to familiarize herself with your business simply by reading about it. So why expect that of a content writer?

For example, I didn’t start writing content and managing social media for my partner’s creative service business until after we’d spent hours together in meetings.

If travel isn’t an issue, bring the writer to your office, your studio, your store, or your workshop, at least for a few hours. That will help her get the sort of hands-on feel that she’ll need to write for your business.

Don’t fear your own enthusiasm.

So your business isn’t a runaway success at the moment. Your content writer is here to help. And your enthusiasm will help her.

A couple of my recent clients have made the value of enthusiasm perfectly clear to me.

The first, unfortunately, was unwilling to provide me with more than the basic, superficial details of his business. This made it much more difficult — not to mention more time-consuming and expensive — to create content that truly reflected the uniqueness of his business.

But the other client was so passionate about his business that I needed no more than his questionnaire responses to capture the voice of that business. He eventually hired me to manage his business’s social media as well.

Listen to your gut.

My business partner’s constructive criticism points to a really intuitive checklist question: Does the content sound like your business?

If it doesn’t, let your content writer know. As a professional, she has the skill set and knowledge to make revisions that will sound like the voice of your business.

That’s not to say that you want to take on the role of editor. Instead, it can help to think of yourself as a subject matter expert: no one else knows your business as well as you do.

Your knowledge and her skill set will complement each other. She’ll not only be able to capture the voice of your business, but do so in effective prose.

Now it’s your turn!

What can you do to make sure your written content or other creative services truly reflect your business? What have you done in the past?

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